(Pajaro Valley Unified School District seniors line up to announce the name of the school they will be attending during the first-ever districtwide Signing Day on Friday. Photo by Todd Guild/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — Watsonville High School senior Perla Pineda-Leon stood in front of 150 of her peers Friday morning and made an important announcement.
“My name is Perla, and I’m going to UCLA!”
Pineda-Leon’s proclamation was met with cheers from the students, all of whom would take turns announcing their respective universities of choice.
The students — who were joined by a handful of parents and school officials — were participating in College Signing Day, the first time Pajaro Valley Unified School District has held such an event for all of its seniors.
The event was created as a way to honor students who will be going to a four-year university, and as a show of support from their community.
“We wanted to shine a light on all our college-bound students,” PVUSD Lead Counselor Carrie Goodwin said. “We are trying to rally around them and support them.”
Goodwin, who helped coordinate the event, said she did so with the UC Santa Cruz’s GEAR UP program, which encourages low-income students to prepare for college.
Pineda-Leon, who was also accepted to at least six other universities, said she is the first generation in her family to attend college.
“I’m really excited about being around other motivated people who are in the same state of mind,” she said. “I feel like I’m going to give back to my family.”
The students packed the VFW Hall on Freedom Boulevard, and sat at tables based on the colleges they will be attending.
This was a way to let the students know they have friends at their new schools before they even start classes, said PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the event was also a way to recognize the students who got into four-year universities, and to encourage younger students to do the same.
“We’re trying to renew the focus of college and career readiness,” she said.
More than 300 PVUSD students have been accepted to four-year universities this year. PVUSD officials plan to make College Signing Day an annual event.
“Signing is a big deal for athletics,” Watsonville High School Principal Elaine Legoretta said. “Shouldn’t academics be just as much if not more important?”